To Plow or Not to Plow, That is the Question!

By Myron Horst

Note: Whether you garden or farm or not, I believe that you will find this article interesting. The subject “To plow or not to plow” is a much more important subject than what most of us realize. There is a surprising conclusion.

In farming and in gardening there are opposing voices, those saying that the ground should not be plowed or tilled and others saying that the soil should be plowed. Both methods appear to work, but which one is the best? One of the challenges in life is discerning the best solution to take.  There are many things in life that “work” and highly educated people promote them as being the answer, but in the end there are consequences or side effects that outweigh the good. It is also important to ask the question: “It is better as compared to what”. For our family, we are not just interested in producing food to eat, we also want to produce the most nutrient dense food that we can.

No-till farming has been growing in practice here in the U.S. The method used by most farmers today is to spray Roundup to kill the cover crop or weeds that have grown in the stubble of the previous crop. The new crop seeds are planted with a special no-till planter through the dead plant mat that is left on the ground. No-till farming has enabled farmers to be able to farm a considerably larger number of acres because all they have to do is spray and plant. No plowing and no cultivating.

For me, the subject to plow or not to plow came up again this past winter when we watched the video “Back to Eden.” It was a documentary of a man who had an impressive looking garden. The documentary had excellent pictures of beautiful plants. Most of the shots were close up and it looked impressive. He did not plow or till, but used a mulch layer on the ground to suppress the weeds and build a rich black soil. He had been gardening this way for a number of years and was getting good results. The method of gardening was presented as God’s method, and as an almost no work garden. I was convinced enough to try it on some of our vegetables.  A lot of Bible verses were quoted throughout the video. But is he right?

I found a website, called “Farming God’s Way”. It is an organization that is teaching African farmers how to farm and to provide for their families. They too advocate not plowing and putting down a layer of mulch. They call the mulch layer “God’s blanket”. They intersperse the teaching on the farming method with Bible verses. It sounds like a very Biblical method. But are they right?

The voices cautioning that the ground should not be plowed or tilled have been around for a long time. Newman Turner and Ruth Stout from years ago both strongly recommended that the ground should not be plowed.

About six years ago, our family went to visit the Rodale Institute’s organic research farm in Pennsylvania for their farm open house. I was very interested in their no-till system that appeared to be a real answer. They had developed an organic no-till system that did not use chemicals. They invented a large roller that would roll the cover crop and kill it by crimping the plants. The roller was mounted on the front of the tractor and a no-till corn planter was pulled behind the tractor for a one pass planting. The cover crop created a mat, or mulch layer that helped conserve moisture and provided nitrogen for the crop. I was impressed with the system and we went back the next year to learn more. That year I was not as impressed. There were a number of problems that they had not been able to fix and the yields were not as good as conventional tilling.

On the other side of the subject is the teaching of Carey Reams. Reams stressed the importance of plowing to reverse the calcium and phosphates in the soil. Calcium tends to move down in the soil which is evidenced by stalactites and stalagmites in caverns. Phosphates tend to rise to the top where they can be washed into streams and rivers. By turning the soil over, the calcium is kept in the topsoil layer and the phosphates are buried back in the soil. Calcium is an important element in producing nutrient dense, high brix food.

So which method is best, to plow or not to plow? For me as a farmer in researching a farming method, I like to go to the oldest agricultural book, the Bible, and see what it says. On this subject it opened a window into a totally new perspective for me, that enabled me to see the collision course that farming is on today.

About the Garden of Eden it says this: Genesis 2:15 “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.”

  • The Hebrew word translated “dress” means to till. Even in the garden of Eden it was necessary to cultivate.

In Ezekiel 36:34-35a it says that plowing and cultivation was an important part in the land becoming like the garden of Eden. “And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by. 35 And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden”;

  • Tilling, or plowing appears to be an important part of creating a fertile and very productive field or garden.

Isaiah 28:23-26 It says this: “Give ye ear, and hear my voice; hearken, and hear my speech. 24 Doth the plowman plow all day to sow? doth he open and break the clods of his ground? 25 When he hath made plain the face thereof, doth he not cast abroad the fitches, and scatter the cummin, and cast in the principal wheat and the appointed barley and the rie in their place? 26 For his God doth instruct him to discretion, and doth teach him.”

  • Plowing produces clods of earth. Cultivation breaks up the clods.
  • This passage says that God’s method is to plow the soil – the opposite of what the Back to Eden film said, and the Farming God’s Way states. In my research, on almost every subject, I have found Christians saying and believing opposite things to be true. It can be confusing and misleading if you take what one person says without checking things out yourself.

The oldest agricultural book has some strong words about no-till farming and this is what opens the window to a bigger perspective of the subject.

Proverbs 12:11 He that tills his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that follows vain person is void of understanding.

Proverbs 28:19 He that tills his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that follows after vain persons shall have poverty enough.

  • Plowing and cultivation are important for success in farming and in gardening to produce an abundant crop.
  • “No-till” is following “vain” persons who think that they know and have the answers, but in the end it results in poverty.

So, is the old agricultural book right? Is no-till following vain persons? Does no-till result in poverty? There are some interesting things that have come out recently.

Rodale Institute, about a month ago, released the yield data for their 2011 yield trials of conventional tillage and their no-till system. The conventional tillage system yielded 95 bushels of corn per acre and 39 bushels of soybeans per acre. The no-till system yielded less than half the yield of corn even though more seeds had been planted per acre – only 40 bushels of corn per acre. The no-till soybeans only yielded 20 bushels per acre. Only half the yield with no-till is a sure way to poverty.

In conventional farming, no-till comes in a package. It requires the use of lots of chemicals – Roundup to kill the grasses and weeds, GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) seeds to resist the Roundup, pesticides and fungicides to kill the bugs and fungus because the crops are so low brix that the bugs and fungus try to eat it up to return it to the soil. No-till is a method that is promoted by the Monsanto Corporation who gives huge donations to many of the big university agricultural departments. So, of course, the no-till trials show the no-till advantage. But one thing to remember is to ask the question: “No-till is better as compared to what?”. They are not comparing no-till to properly remineralized, plowed, and cultivated soil, and they are not looking at the long term effects of the whole no-till system. They are looking primarily at short term crop yield comparisions.

The no-till revolution has resulted in a very high percentage of conventional soybeans and corn being genetically modified to resist Roundup. A New York Times article talking about GMO Roundup Ready crops says: “Those crops made it so easy for farmers to control weeds by spraying glyphosate [Roundup] that Roundup Ready crops now account for about 90 percent of soybeans and around 70 percent of the corn and cotton grown in the United States. And use of glyphosate skyrocketed, at the expense of rival herbicides.” They go on to say how super weeds are becoming resistant to Roundup, and Dow Corning is looking for approval for their GMO corn that is resistant to 2,4, D (an ingredient in Agent Orange) so that 2,4,D can be sprayed after the corn comes up, instead of Roundup to control the Roundup resistant super weeds.

We can see, that at the heart of the GMO controversy is actually the question, “To plow or not to plow?” No-till has resulted in GMO seeds being used in a high percentage of our crops. What is the effect of GMO grain? Does it improve health or destroy it? Just released this fall is a French study on the long term feeding of GMO grains to rats. The rats grew huge tumors and 70% of the females died. If you have not seen the pictures of the rats, the pictures are worth a thousand words. You can see the pictures at:

Last week Russia halted all imports of GMO grain after the French study came out.

We see a progression of following “vain” persons promoting no-till. No-till requires the use of herbicides, such as Roundup. The use of Roundup results in the need for GMO crops. GMO grains have the potential of resulting in cancer. But that is not all. There are more consequences of following “vain” persons:

The United Nations in a report states that the suicide rate for farmers worldwide is higher than for non-farmers. In the Midwest of the U.S. where most of the corn, wheat, and soybeans are grown, suicide rates among male farmers are two times higher than the general population! This is a sad and telling statistic. No-till farming has not resulted in grain farmers becoming more successful. They have become more dependent on the big corporations and the chemicals and seeds that they sell. The more dependent that they have become, the more it drains their wallet. Finally, in despair and financial hopelessness they commit suicide.

The suicide rate among farmers dependent on Monsanto is highlighted by the suicide problem among farmers in India. The website reports that in India every 30 minutes another farmer commits suicide. Over 250,000 farmers have committed suicide in India alone in the last 16 years! They often committed the act by drinking the same insecticide that Monsanto supplied them with.

The Hindustan Times reports: “India’s Bt cotton dream is going terribly wrong. For the first time, farmer suicides, including those in 2011-12, have been linked to the declining performance of the much hyped genetically modified (GM) variety adopted by 90% of the country’s cotton-growers since being allowed a decade ago. Policymakers have hailed Bt cotton as a success story but a January 9 internal advisory, a copy of which is with HT, sent out to cotton-growing states by the agriculture ministry presents a grim scenario. ‘Cotton farmers are in a deep crisis since shifting to Bt cotton. The state of farmer suicides in 2011-12 has been particularly severe among Bt cotton farmers,’ says the advisory.  Bt cotton’s success, it appears, lasted merely five years. Since then, yields have been falling and pest attacks going up.”

As I reflect on the above information, I realize that what that old agricultural book said: “He that tills his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that follows after vain persons shall have poverty enough.” is more accurate and not as radical as what it first sounds. The long term results of no-till is not sustainable because of its heavy dependance on chemicals and GMO seeds and the poverty that they bring with them, not only to the farmer, but also to those who eat the GMO grains. Healthcare costs have skyrocketed in recent years and are draining the wallets of the consumer, bringing them poverty and dependance on the government to supply healthcare.

It is helpful to be able to step back and see the bigger picture. In the end, the big corporations such as Monsanto and Dow Corning will fail because their products are not sustainable and end in poverty. It all goes back to a subject that at first appears to be relatively unimportant – To Plow or Not to Plow — That is the Question!

Raw Honey and Its Ability to Improve Brain Function

Another food that we produce here on the farm that is important for school students for success in school is raw honey. On the containers of raw honey that we sell here on the farm, Joel has this quote: "Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good." Isaiah 7:15

I have often wondered why milk and honey would enable a person to be able refuse evil, and to be able to chose properly between right and wrong. The ability to make wise decisions is a skill that many children, and adults, lack today. Parenting would be a lot easier if you could feed your child food that would help them behave. School would be a lot better if kids didn’t have to be drugged so that they could sit still and behave. In Barnes’s Bible Commentary, commentator Barnes expresses what most people think: "As this translation now stands, it is unintelligible. It would ‘seem’ from this that his eating butter and honey would ‘contribute’ to his knowing good and evil. But this cannot be the meaning." But what I have found in my research is that milk and honey can have an effect on a person’s brain, and the brain’s ability to function properly.

Here are some pieces of the puzzle that I have been able to put together recently. I did a Google search for "calcium brain". What I found is that calcium is used by the brain cells to conduct the electrical signal using protein ions. Nitrogen (protein) is an electrolyte and conducts electricity in a liquid. Each brain cell has to have calcium in it for the electrical signal to work. Calcium is an alkaline earth metal and conducts electricity. The protein ions conduct the electrical signal from one brain cell to another to communicate messages. If there is not enough calcium, the brain will not function properly. If there is not enough protein the brain will not function properly. Raw milk is an important source of calcium and as such is an important food for brain function. So yes, milk can be a food that helps a person make wise choices.

I also learned that honey helps the body to absorb calcium. Therefore eating both milk and honey together helps the brain to assimilate and use calcium properly. The brain needs the calcium in order for it to make wise choices and decisions. One interesting piece of research that I found was on calcium and the affect of calcium on the honey bee in memory and learning. They found that calcium is crucial for long term memory in honey bees. When honey bees were deprived of calcium, they were not able to remember their food source. Within three days after receiving calcium, the bees were able to again learn and remember their food source. I find this interesting because this may be a clue for the decline of the honey bee in recent years. With Colony Collapse Disorder, the honey bees leave the hive and never return. It is possible that because of low calcium in the brain, the honey bee is not able to remember where home is. Because of acid rain, calcium is being depleted out of our soils. Our foods contains significantly less calcium than they did 60 years ago. It is likely that the honey bee is not getting enough calcium for it to function properly. I see what is happening to the honey bee is an important clue of what can be affecting us. They honey bee has a short life of only about 6 weeks. Our life span is closer to 70 years. Therefore affects on health will show up quickly in the honey bee, years before it will show up in our health. To read more about the honey bee and calcium:

After finding out about the importance of raw milk and raw honey in the ability of a person to make right decisions, I believe that the battle for raw milk is also a spiritual one, not just a legal one. Today, both milk and honey are pasteurized and the important function of helping teenagers and adults make right choices is destroyed or significantly reduced.

The take home message – Eat homemade ice cream made with raw milk and raw honey. Dessert is important! You need to eat your dessert so that you can make the right choices of what to eat and what not to eat!

Is Your Food Giving Your Body the Complete Nourishment You Need For Health and Longevity?

In thinking back on what you ate today and yesterday, was the food nutrient dense, produced on fertile mineral rich soil? Did the farmer that raised the food care about your health, or did he/she mass produce it with little regard for what it would do for your health? Were the meat, eggs, or dairy products raised in a healthy environment and fed a nutrient dense, non-GMO diet on pasture? How much variety of different vegetables and fruits did you have? In evaluating your food and beverages for the last two days, on a scale of 0 to 10, how valuable do you think they were in contributed to your ultimate health and longevity? Or did they have a negative impact on your health?

I used to think that eating food was basically like putting gas in a car. I needed a certain amount of calories each day (just like a car needs a certain number of gallons of gas). If I ate too many calories I would get fat, and if I didn’t eat enough calories I would lose weight. The number of calories I ate was the main thing to be concerned about. How naive I was! What I didn’t realize is that unlike a car, our bodies need a wide variety of fuels because there is a wide variety of systems operating at the same time that each has special fuel needs. Because of the wide variety of fuel needs that the organs in our bodies need, it is important to eat a wide variety of foods, fruits and vegetables. An athlete that focuses on building his muscles will consume a large amount of protein and protein powders, but in the process he neglects the fuel that his brain needs and many of the other organs in his body.

Years ago, I had a great-aunt who went on a carrot diet to try to cure a health problem that she had. She juiced carrots and consumed a large quantity of carrots. I don’t know how long she was on the carrot diet, but it was long enough that her skin turned yellow. She decided she had eaten too many carrots! Carrots are an excellent source of certain "fuels" that our bodies need, but they are not a complete food source. The same is true of each variety of grain, fruit or vegetable.

The following is an interesting email that I received about a year ago from a lady in Australia about how certain foods look like the body parts that they supply specific "fuel" for. I have not validated everything that she shares about the different foods, but it gives an excellent illustration of the importance of eating a wide variety of foods.

"Hello, While reading my Bible, I asked God about sheep. I believe that God doesn’t just put things in the Bible for no reason & that everything has meaning that only He can reveal to a person who asks. I forgot about the sheep for awhile & about a week later I was looking something up on the internet (not sheep)& your website popped up and "sheep" caught my eye. I smiled because I knew it was God!!! I loved your articles. So thankyou!!! God has been showing me things too on health, food, environment etc. very similar to what you are finding. I just wondered if you knew about foods looking like body parts?

It’s been said that God first separated the salt water from the fresh, made dry land, planted a garden, made animals & fish…all before making a human. He made & provided what we’d need before we were born.

A sliced carrot looks like the human eye. The pupil, iris & radiating lines look just like the human eye…& YES, science now shows carrots greatly enhance blood flow to & function of the eyes. Carrots get their orange colour from a plant chemical called beta-carotene, which reduces the risk of developing cataracts.

A tomato has 4 chambers & is red. The heart has 4 chambers & is red also. All of the research shows that tomatoes have fibre & are loaded with lycopene (a powerful antioxidant) which is indeed pure heart & blood food. They also have Vitamin K which regulates blood flow.

A walnut looks like a little brain, a left & right hemisphere, upper cerebrums & lower cerebellums. Even the wrinkles or folds on the nut are just like the neo-cortex. We now know walnuts help develop more than (3) dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function.

Kidney beans actually heal & help maintain kidney function & yes, they look exactly like the human kidneys.

Celery, bok choy, rhubarb & many more look just like bones. These foods specifically target bone strength. Bones are 23% sodium & these foods are 23% sodium. If you don’t have enough sodium in your diet, the body pulls it from the bones, thus making them weak. These foods replenish the skeletal needs of the body.

Avocados, eggplant & pears target the health and function of the womb & cervix of the female – they look just like these organs. Today’s research shows that when a woman eats one avocado a week, it balances hormones, sheds unwanted birth weight, & prevents cervical cancers. And how profound is this? It takes exactly (9) months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit. The name avocado comes from an Aztec word meaning "testicle tree" because the rounded fruits grow in pairs. Avocados have vitamins & minerals that are necessary for reproduction such as Vitamin E. Diets lacking in vitamin E do not support the reproductive function. Vitamin E may also help the sperm penetrate the egg. Deficiency leads to a degeneration of testicular tissues.

Unfortunately I don’t have time to write too much more on this but I must say that what I discovered here is endless. Other examples that you can research yourself are as follows:

Grapes hang in a cluster & look like the shape of the heart. Individual grapes look like a blood cell.

Lungs are made up of branches – bunches of grapes (vine).

Eyes are fish shape (Vitamin A)

Sweet potato looks like the pancreas.

Grapefruits, oranges & other citrus fruits look like mammary glands of the female when the fruit is sliced.

Onions when sliced look like body cells.

Broccoli – green tips on the head look like hundreds of cancer cells.

Pumpkin and squash seeds look just like the prostate gland.

Ginger looks like the stomach.

Raw cheese looks like internal structure of bones.

Figs correspond to male reproductive organs and they hang in twos when they grow.

Olives look like ovaries.

Beetroot are good for blood production and look like blood.

Going away from food I’ll tell you something about elephants that are interesting too. There are Indian elephants and there are African elephants. Indian elephants have ears in the shape of the continent of India and African elephants have ears in the shape of the continent Africa.

God’s insights are endless and amazing. What an amazing Creator we have!!!


After reading Karen’s email, I had to think of this verse in the Bible that mentioned several foods that resemble body parts: "Butter of kine, and milk of sheep, with fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the fat of kidneys of wheat; and thou didst drink the pure blood of the grape. "(Deuteronomy 32:14) I am not sure how the oil in wheat germ affects the kidneys, but I did find that to clear the kidneys of kidney stones, one method is to take olive oil or coconut oil along with lemon juice. It appears that oil is important to keep the kidney functioning properly. Most wheat consumed in America today has the oil and the wheat germ removed, even in so-called "whole wheat" products. People do not get the "fat of the kidneys" of the wheat to help their own kidneys.

The correlation between blood and grape juice in the above verse is more than just looks. The Mayo Clinic has an interesting article on the value of grape juice for our blood in which they say:

"Recent studies have suggested that red and purple grape juices may provide some of the same heart benefits of red wine, including:

  • Reducing the risk of blood clots
  • Reducing low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad") cholesterol
  • Preventing damage to blood vessels in your heart
  • Helping maintain a healthy blood pressure

Both red wine and grape juice also contain antioxidants called flavonoids, which have been shown to increase your high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or "good") cholesterol and lower your risk of clogged arteries (atherosclerosis), and may help lower blood pressure."

The take home message for each of us for health and longevity, is to eat foods that are as nutrient dense as we can find and to eat as wide a variety of foods as we can.

All Plants for Food

One day I noticed in the Bible, in Genesis 1:29, that God said that He had given every plant that produced seed and every tree that produced seed for us for food. My first thought was really? What about Poison Ivy, Dogwood, etc? In researching, I found that yes, most plants have some food or medicinal properties. One valuable website lists over 7,300 plants and their edible parts and medicinal uses.

There are only about twenty different plants that provide about 90% of the food that we eat, and yet there are over 20,000 species of edible plants in the world. There is much more food around us than what we realize.

Farming and Health—There is Much More To Learn

Several months ago we realized that we need to learn more about farming and health. Yes, pasture raised meats are important, and organic is important, but they are only two pieces of the pie, not the whole pie or the whole picture. We asked God again to teach us how to farm and from then to now has been an intense learning time. I feel like I am being catapulted along faster than my little brain can absorb everything.

One of the things we learned was at a seminar in Lancaster Pa. where Dr. Arden Anderson was one of the speakers. Dr. Anderson is a medical doctor as well as an agronomist — an unusual combination of training but one which all doctors should have. One of the things that he said was that insects are the garbage crew. If insects are eating a plant or fruit or vegetable, it means it is garbage and is not nutritious enough to eat. He has found that by increasing the mineral and nutrient content of the plant, fruit, or vegetable, insects will leave it alone. Their digestive system cannot handle the increased nutrients in the plants. They get diarrhea and die. Modern science and farming has taken a different approach. They kill the garbage crew (insects) and feed us the "garbage"! The majority of the food we eat today is "garbage".

After we were home again a Bible verse came to our minds "Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things so that thy youth is renewed like the eagles" (Psalms 103:5) How does an eagle renew its youth? How can we become young again? The answer is fascinating. An eagle can live to be as much as 50 years old. Periodically, after a certain number of years, an eagle will go somewhere by itself. It will shed all of its old feathers and grow new feathers. Its claws will grow until new claws have appeared. When the eagle returns to its natural habitat it looks like a young eagle even though it is many years old.

We too, just like the eagle, are continually shedding old cells and new cells are taking their place. Regardless of how old you are, you are not more than about 16 years old!! You will be 16 until the day you die! About the only cells that are with us from birth are our brain cells and perhaps our nerve cells.

  • Gut lining cells are about 5 days old.

  • Skin cells are 14 days old

  • Red blood cells are 120 old or less

  • The entire human skeleton is replaced every 10 years or so.

  • The cells in the liver have a turnover time of 300 to 500 days.

  • Muscle cells are about 15 years old.

  • Gut cells other than the lining are about 16 years old.

Suddenly I realized how people before the flood could have lived to be 900+ years old. The fountain of youth is within us and our youth is continually being renewed. At least that is how the body was originally designed to work. There is a prophecy in Isaiah that when the Messiah comes for the 1000 year reign, people will again live very long lives. "There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die a hundred years old; but the sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed." (Isaiah 65:20)

So why are we not living longer now? Part of the answer is found in Psalms 103:5 where it explains how our youth is renewed. It states that our mouth is filled with good things and then our youth is renewed like the eagles. The problem is that we have been eating garbage (food) that is grown in mineral and nutrient depleted soils. This is not a new problem. Farmers and rain have been depleting the soils since the flood. The soil is not nearly as rich, healthy, and productive as it has the potential of being. Our cells are built from the garbage. When our new cells replace the old cells, the new ones are made from mineral and nutrient deficient food, just like the ones they replaced. The new cells don’t have the energy to be youthful. However, if we fill our mouths with good things and eat nutrient dense foods, then our new cells will be stronger and more healthy than our old cells – the renewing of our youth.

Understanding that the cells in our body are renewed on a regular basis sheds some light on our health. One is that it is possible to change the makeup of our bodies over time by changing what we eat. We are not necessarily doomed because of where our body is now health wise. Another is that our body is what it is because of what we have eaten over the last 16 years and what we eat now will affect the quality of some of our cells for the next 16 years. We like instant results in health, but in reality, some of the health renewal will take years of eating right until all the cells are rebuilt with healthy components. This concept of our youth being renewed like the eagles has shed a whole new light on the importance of us producing nutrient dense nutritional food. Again, let me emphasize that this is not the full picture of what constitutes health, it is only one piece of the full picture.